This black and white gem directed by Anthony Kilburn and starring Christopher Bolla, Christianna L. White, and Milan Alley is a nod to the era of Warhol and the 60’s free love, drugs, and artistic expression days. CHIAROSCURO, BABY (a combination of the words “light” and “dark” in Italian) is one of the most engaging character pieces I’ve had the opportunity to watch in a very long time. All the main character’s colors come through in this film despite its greyscaled demeanor. The acting is flawless, and kudos to the leads for handing some very complicated scenes involving copious amounts of nudity and other emotional subjects that require a wide range of acting ability. The main character Calvin’s story sucks you in and doesn’t let you go, even through to the end credits (a slightly long 127 minutes or so). The struggle he goes through is very realistic and fairly easy to relate to.
The monotone aspect of this film fits it perfectly. It gives it an almost timeless feel, as well as evoking a bit of nostalgia that for some reason is missing in a lot of other films that are released these days in black and white. The cinematography overall is tight, with striking camera angles and good use of depth of field in many scenes. It’s a convention that is oft overused, but is just right in this movie. It’s amusing that the main character in this movie is an artist, and that towards the end he unveils his masterpiece, much like the director has revealed this film to his audience as his masterpiece (it’s his first English speaking film).
There is a failing in this film. But I haven’t decided yet whether it is intentional, or not. The soundtrack to this film is stellar, however the dialogue and even the dead silence in the movie are plagued with a loud humming noise. Part of me wants to feel that this was an homage to early cinema rather than an error.
This movie is a must see for anyone who enjoys the cinema of the 60’s, was a fan of Warhol and the experimental films he made, and anyone that appreciates strong characters with a strong story to back them up. The visuals are striking, and the music nothing short of groovy. CHIAROSCURO, BABY is a flick to look out for.
CHIAROSCURO, BABY Review
FILM SYNOPSIS - An aspiring painter compromises his ambition for his seductive girlfriend, only to be torn when his empowering, new muse reignites his passion.